More on the aforementioned Kansas City trip to see the family: We hooked up with our Philadelphia friends the Jarigues (Erin is a friend since childhood of M'Lady), and they presented me with a great treat of six Philly-area beers.
I tried the first before we ever left KC (yeah, I'm the type to shake my present under the tree to try to figure out what it is), and was rewarded for my impatience. Tröegs Brewing's Troegenator Doublebock (or "Dopplebock" for you German purists) is an outstanding rendition of this heavy-as-lead winter seasonal. As their website notes, this style was created by monks who needed nutrition during periods of fasting, and this stuff is like liquid bread. (Not Wonder Bread, either – more like heavy duty wheat with a thick, chewy crust.) It's not for the faint of tastebud, and you better have a deep love of malt. Fortunately, I do. It easily stacks up against my longtime favorite in this style, Spaten Optimator (which, for some reason, I must always pronounce with my best Ahnuld Schwarzenegger accent).
Thanks, guys! It's always awesome to try some beer that I can't get here in Texas, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the sixer. (They also included a Golden Monkey from Victory, which is distributed here, but hey, I'll take it anyway. For the record, I'll gladly accept free Victory beer any time.)
Since Erin is in a family way, it was up to me and Ben to then sample the limited-edition Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad that my mother-in-law gave me. I can't say I was as blown away as some of my KC beer blogger friends – I wasn't quite sure what to make of the cherry flavor, and maybe I just needed a cleaner palate after putting away some Boulevard Nutcracker. I think Ben felt the same way. Nonetheless, I liked it, and continue to applaud Boulevard's adventurousness with the Smokestack Series. The MIL got me two bottles, so maybe my appraisal will come up on the next try. (UPDATE: Yes, I thought this was excellent on the second go-around. I think letting it warm for several minutes is a good tactic with this beer.)
What did rock my world was the Double Wide IPA (another Smokestack) that I accidentally left in the MIL's fridge last winter. A year's worth of aging didn't hurt this beer one bit. Maybe the DWIPA raised my expectation too high for the BBQ (Get it? Bourbon Barrel Quad? Kansas City BBQ? Those guys are clever.) Now, if only Boulevard will put on the market that imperial stout that they tested on me and some other beer bloggers earlier this year. It was great.
Up next: Boulevard's other limited-edition brew, the Brett Saison, which the KC crowd has been raving about and I'm anxious to sample. As far as I know, it's not been for sale in Texas, making my biannual KC trips all the more valuable. Um, well, that and visiting my in-laws. ;-)